CAIRO: Looking to offer a transport service that sets it apart from its rivals such as Uber, Careem and Swvl, the Egyptian company Halan has launched a new app that offers its customers with travel by tuk tuk.
The number of Halan application users in Egypt is close to 7.5 million, due to the fact that there are huge numbers of tuk-tuks crisscrossing various parts of Egypt.
Naglaa Samy, head of the Motorcyclists and Tuk-Tuk Union in Egypt, said there were 3 million tuk-tuks in Egypt but only 99,000 were licensed to practice the profession, according to figures published by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) in March.
Mounir Nakhla, executive director of Halan, said there were investors “who contributed in creating the application, in addition to a marketing campaign we launched at the beginning. All these factors contributed in the success and wide use of the application in Egypt,” Nakhla said.
Nakhla said that a 7-km trip costs around 13.5 Egyptian pounds ($0.8) and takes roughly 20 minutes on a motorcycle, while it costs 20 Egyptian pounds in a taxi which takes an hour for the same distance. The trip has become more expensive with the increase in fuel prices but the increase is smaller than that charged by other transportation applications.
Nakhla is the founding partner of Mashaweery, Egypt’s biggest light-weight transportation company which has more than 100 branches across the country and 40,000 active clients. The company finances most of the country’s application motorcycles and tuk-tuks. Nakhla also founded Tasaheel, a macro- financing company with more than 100 branches and 350,000 customers in Egypt.
Halan’s biggest challenge is to respond to increasing demand and to beat out the major players in the Egyptian market, Uber and Careem.
Tuk-tuks in Egypt are not permitted in the center of major cities but Col. Emad Hamed, an officer in the Public Traffic Department, told Arab News that tuk tuks in the country had become a reality because they are used “in a massive and random manner.”
They also have become one of the main factors behind the increase in robberies, rape and harassment. As a consequence, Hamed said it was necessary to legalize this mode of transport in villages and areas where vehicle access is difficult to reach while preventing the scooters from working in the cities. He said that the Traffic Department objected to the use of tuk-tuks in big cities because they were deemed unsafe and lacked safety and security precautions.
However, tuk-tuks have imposed themselves on society. Hamed noted that legalizing this form of transportation would decrease crimes since it would be easy to find violators. As for the Halan application Hamed said that it would monitor all tuk-tuk drivers, an important step toward the legalization process. “I want a law that says all application drivers must have licenses to practice the profession so that the process would not become haphazard.”
Ahmed Hussein, a tuk-tuk driver listed in the application in the Cairo suburb of Maadi, an upscale part of the city, said the application made it easier for him to reach his customers and that it was also a safe method for him. However, Hussein added that not everybody used the application — “not more than one client in four daily,” Hussein said.
He said that providing tuk-tuks with license plates would reduce crimes such as burglary, harassment and bullying since some tuk-tuk drivers commit such crimes safe in the belief that it is difficult to trace them. That, he said, gives other tuk-tuk drivers a bad reputation.
Arab News talked to some middle-class users in Egypt. Dalia, from Maadi, said that she uses the app because it is a safe method for her as she knows the driver’s name and the number of his license plate. However, Dalia’s mother said she doesn’t use the app because she doesn’t have a smart phone.